A routine road trip in the winter can quickly turn into a nightmare. When you are safe and comfortable inside a heated cab, the great outdoors seems far away. But a breakdown, road wreck or impassable road conditions can quickly bring you face to face with the elements.
Before you set out, make sure your vehicle is in good running condition. Perform the recommended maintenance to prevent mechanical failure, and have regular tuneups so the vehicle will run in all weather conditions, and keep the fuel tank full. You might have to take a detour or you might have to run the engine to keep warm if you are stranded.
Check these systems before you hit the road:
Battery. The colder the weather, the better condition your battery should be in.
Ignition. An unreliable starter can be a serious situation if you are out of town.
Lights. Headlights should be properly aimed and all signals should be working.
Brakes. They should perform evenly.
Tires. Check that they are in good condition, properly inflated, correctly matched and of the appropriate type for driving conditions.
Exhaust. Check for leaks which could allow carbon monoxide to enter your vehicle.
Heating and cooling. Examine components for cracks and leaks. Keep the antifreeze level full.
Wiper and washer. Examine the blades and use the correct washer fluid for the season.
These are suggested emergency items to keep in the trunk of a vehicle:
Sand or kitty litter for improved traction
Ice scraper and brush
Extra windshield de-icer and antifreeze
Don’t forget to carry a spare tire, properly inflated, along with a jack and other tools for changing a tire.
In the passenger area of the vehicle you should carry:
First aid kit
Warm clothing including extra socks and gloves in case yours get wet
Sturdy, weather resistant footwear
Blanket or sleeping bag
A candle in a metal can to use for heat and light
Matches or lighter
Food such as energy bars, nuts or dried fruit
A cellular telephone can be an important survival tool for travelers. Consider carrying one, especially if you drive alone or through uninhabited areas.
Did you know that 70 per cent of deaths during snow or ice storms occur in vehicles? It pays to carry blankets or sleeping bags, matches, candles, a snow shovel and sandbags, a flashlight, and non-perishable food such as cereal bars, in case a winter storm sidelines you in your vehicle.